Thursday, October 20, 2011

Where in the world is Rebecca? adventures afoot...

By now many of you have heard rumors of me moving.  Fortunately or unfortunately, they are at least partly true.  Okay, they are completely true.  I no longer live in New Mexico and honestly, can't really say where it is I do live!  But for sure for the coming three months I am staying and working in Cortez, CO.  I was not all that thrilled about going to Cortez for this temporary job, but I have to say now that I am here, that I am quite impressed with this little town.  Here are the reasons I've amassed so far:
1.  There is a Chinese restaurant that serves gluten free food.  Yes.  Chinese.  You heard that correctly (and it isn't P.F. Changs).
2.  There are huge city parks here and they are gorgeous.  They also include walking trails.
3.  The City Market has Pamela's brownie mix and Udi's muffins.  Need I say more?
4.  I am living 3 minutes from work.  If I wasn't doing home health (for which I need my car), I could walk to work every day.
5.  The liquor store on the corner is called "Cork and Barrel" and there is an old Sirloin Stockade cow on the edge of town greeting all visitors.  I was hoping to get a photo of the cow today, but work went long and after about 10 hours of work, my mind stops functioning.  Heck, I was lucky I was able to drive the 6 blocks home in one piece--or even that I remembered where it is I'm staying now!

As for the moving, it was not as bad as it could have been--and moving is always bad on any scale.
My first order of business was to take apart the Harrisville rug loom.  This was somewhat traumatic, and looking at this photo now makes me miss my beautiful loom again.  I had to put her in pieces in a storage locker--which is just sad.  I took this (and about 20 more) photo in the hopes that I will be able to put the loom back together without too much swearing (hopefully in the near future).

In the midst of the packing I had to dye a bunch of yarn for a commission.  I think it was actually 20 colors.  Luckily the colors turned out fine.  Now I just have to find the time to wind 20 skeins and weave a 16 x 50 inch piece!

Cassy does not have opposable thumbs, so helping with the packing is difficult for her--and she starts getting anxious when things start coming apart (who can blame her?  So do I).

After day one of moving, I was feeling fairly good! ...of course I had movers move all this stuff.  I had scheduled a moving company to come and move my piano as I can't move it myself.  And they literally volunteered to move all the other big items also.  They rocked.  I gave them each a big tip--I was so grateful.  The next day was another story.

This is how I felt after the second day of moving (no movers, just me, Emily, and the UHaul).

And here is my car packed to the gills for the trip to Cortez. She was riding low and not as happy as usual to go up the hills.  But we made it in one piece.

So now I'm working here for awhile.  It is a good place to work... but I do miss my studio!

So here I am in a new spot, a little off kilter, but all in one piece.  I'm grateful to have an occupation that pays me well which can subsidize my art career.  I don't know where I will be going after here, but rest assured I will continue to weave tapestries wherever I am!

Photos from a hike October 2nd to Gold Hill from the Taos Ski Valley.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Man Couch

I found this amusing...  I was in Weaving Southwest sometime last week and they have a couple couches set up--one in the gallery and one in the yarn store.  The front couch's coffee table has Trend magazine and various other fiber publications on it--and sometimes someone's coffee cup.  The new couch in the back struck me as being for a different set of customer...

The "men's couch" at Weaving Southwest.

The reading material supplied at the "men's couch".

Thursday, October 6, 2011

El Rito Studio Tour and learning to let go a little bit...

Saturday morning Emily and I headed over to El Rito, NM, a small town 15 miles north of Abiquiu and about the same distance west of Ojo Caliente.  I lived in this little town for about 3 years and was excited to return and see some of the old friends there.  Sara and Sierra were happy to tour us around El Rito for their annual studio tour.

My best buds Sierra and Sara outside Julie Wagner's studio

A young artist's work at the El Rito Public Library where they also have an event called "Death by Chocolate".  I think it speaks for itself. (Thank you to the person who made a batch of gluten free brownies!  I increased my donation at that point!)

The gang with the Leer es Poder sign outside the library.

I used to live virtually next door to Martins grocery.  It closed its doors a few years ago and I miss walking through the dusty aisles marveling that you can get potted meat ALL over northern New Mexico.

We visited a friend and artist from my days of living in El Rito, Julie Claire.  Julie and I talked a little about her intuitive painting workshops which she does through her coaching business, Full Bloom Coaching in both Santa Fe and El Rito.  I have been intrigued by her process for years and hope to take one of her classes one day soon.  I think Julie can teach me to loosen up and let go of some of the things that inhibit my design process.  Tapestry is such a rigid medium in so many ways.  Once the design is finished, I pretty much don't deviate from the cartoon after I start weaving.  Yes, there are occasionally small changes I make as I go along--shifting a color or changing some highlights.  But the process to that point which includes a trip to Santa Fe to have a cartoon enlarged by a blueprint shop not to mention the days of dyeing to come up with the exact colors for the piece mean that I am unlikely to deviate from the design once it goes to the loom.  And weaving a tapestry can take months... following your pattern.  This process seems to lend itself to rigidity of the mind... and I would like to loosen things up a little bit.

In Julie's workshops as I understand it, you start with one large surface and start painting--and you keep painting on that surface.  Layers of pictures happen and you have to be willing to let the one you were working on go and let it change into something else.  And isn't that how life works anyway?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Woven Stories: Weaving Traditions of Northern New Mexico

Saturday after spending time at the Taos Wool Festival, I went to see the new film by Andrea Heckman, Woven Stories: Weaving Traditions of Northern New Mexico.  This was the U.S. premier of the movie and was screened at the Taos Center for the Arts.

First I want to admit to the 100+ people in the audience that yes, it was me who shouted out, "Hey! That's my piece!" at the beginning of the movie.  I know that is probably not cool.  But I was excited to see my piece, Emergence II featured twice in the film. (I also admit that the ONE margarita I had had an hour earlier at the Adobe Bar might have influenced the outburst just a tad.)

Rebecca Mezoff, Emergence II
45 x 45 inches, hand-dyed wool tapestry
This film is full of wonderful voices.  Rachel Brown herself makes an appearance.  Her granddaughter and owner of Rachel's contemporary tapestry gallery Weaving Southwest, Teresa Loveless, gives a lot of information about Rachel's contribution to fiber art in northern NM.  Teresa is also featured dyeing yarn for the gallery's yarn store.  There is a Lisa Trujillo Chimayo weaving class filmed in the gallery with some thoughts by Lisa and the participants.  There are stories from Kristina Wilson and many other long-time tapestry and fiber artists in New Mexico including Tierra Wools, Espanola Valley Fiber Arts Center, the Mora mill, some sheep breeders, and a little bit about puebloan weaving at Taos Pueblo.  My first tapestry teacher, Karen Martinez, talks about teaching tapestry at Northern NM College.

Fred Black talks about tapestry being like "frozen music" with its melodies and movement which I thought was a lovely metaphor.

Andrea also has a book called Woven Stories: Andean Textiles and Rituals.  The film can be ordered from  The direct link to the page with the DVD is HERE.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Taos Wool Festival 2011

Every year (if I possibly can), I go to the Taos Wool Festival.  Emily says this is because "that is where my peeps are."  I'm not sure if she is talking about the alpaca, the churro sheep, or the people (or maybe just the cinnamon almond vendor), but I do enjoy spending some time there every first weekend in October.

The Taos Wool Festival is run by the Mountain and Valley Wool Association and this was their 25th year.  Their mission is to promote Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas wool, animal fiber, and their products.  For more information, their website is HERE.

I usually buy a t-shirt... and I liked the logo a lot this year... but even though it was only Saturday afternoon, they were out of any shirts in my size in a color I liked, so I settled for this photograph.

Disclaimer: no animals were harmed in the making of this blog post... and there are some shots of a naked churro sheep so if that sort of thing makes you woozy, you might want to skip the rest.

There are lots of animals every year and I love seeing the angora bunnies.  This little girl settled in to get acquainted with this rabbit.

I think this one is giving me the bunny evil-eye.  Admittedly I was stalking him with my camera and I couldn't get him to hold still enough to get a clear shot that included his long shaggy ears which stood straight up.  The woman minding the bunny cages said he was an English angora (I could have that wrong, things were a little confusing at that point)... and his ears were a hoot!  He wasn't amenable to a photograph though.

There was a pen of Navajo Churro sheep and we did get to see one shorn (turn back now if you don't want to see the naked sheep!).  Churro are the prize sheep of the Navajo.  I recently watched the movie "A Gift from Talking God: The Story of the Navajo-Churro" which you can find out more about HERE.  It is a wonderful documentary about how the churro sheep were almost wiped out and brought back to use in this region of the United States. They are highly prized for their double coat and their low-lanalin fleece as well as for their meat.

I don't know the name of this sheep shearer, but he was fast and I didn't see any sheep blood flying either.  It amazes me how the sheep just lay there.  About 6 years ago I saw a traditional shearer in El Rito using clippers shear a sheep almost as fast as this man did with his electric set-up.  When the sheep is turned upside down, they just go limp.  Robert, the El Rito shearer, told me that it was hard-wired into their brain because they are prey animals and when they are flipped over they are most likely going to be killed, so their brains just shut off. 
The whole thing only took a couple minutes.

Here he is after being let back into the churro pen.  I'm pretty sure at this point he was thinking, "Whoa, something is radically different..."

There were alpaca, which are my favorite.  This one was crying and the handler said they make the whimpering noise when they are distressed.  By Saturday afternoon he had probably had too many people taking photos of him.  Sorry dude.


And there were dogs everywhere.

And of course we can't forget the actual fiber booths.  There were marvelous tapestries and rugs by Fred BlackBettye Sullivan, and Alex George Sullivan.  When I got to the Sullivan's booth, the person wearing Bettye Sullivan's name tag was definitely not Bettye (and I had NOT had a margarita yet).  It was Julie Cloutman of Taos Fiber Arts who was running the booth for the Sullivans that day.  Julie was sporting a fantastic pair of knitted (or they could have been crocheted, the artist is multi-talented) earrings.  The artist was the offspring of the people running the felting booth next door.  Here are the earrings and Julie with the artist himself.  I regret that I do not know his name, so if anyone does, please comment and I'll credit him!  He did win a ribbon in the youth competition for a rather conceptual piece of crocheting which was a long chain with loops--aptly titled "Scarf".

10/9/11: And Martie of Taos Sunflower  just told me that the young artist is Chakotay Mitchell, son of Merce Mitchell of Pure Felt.  Thanks for the information Martie (your yarn shop was my very very favorite for so long, but I sure understand the need to do other things!) and to Chakotay for his great fiber art!

There were marvelous signs, and of course fantastic amounts of fiber.

I'm kind of sorry it is over for the year.  I didn't buy any yarn.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Hannah Haworth and the roving prairie dog at Weaving Southwest

I visit Weaving Southwest fairly frequently.  I like to visit my tapestries and see which ones have gone home with someone.  Plus the people there are just so fantastically friendly!  Hannah Haworth is a fairly new addition to the staff there and she is a knitting goddess and wonderful artist.  This past weekend on one of my trips through the gallery (of which there were at least three), I spotted this little guy on the counter. Priscilla the Prairie Dog.  And she comes right out of her little prairie dog hole and roams around the gallery.

She seemed awfully interested in looking at my tapestries actually! (Admittedly I might have encouraged that a little.)

Priscilla looking at Emergence III

Priscilla checking out Emergence I and the other beautiful tapestries.

Fortunately for us, Hannah has written a pattern for Priscilla and you can get it at Weaving Southwest and on Ravelry HERE.  I definitely went home with a copy.  She is writing new patterns as we speak, so keep an eye on her!

Hannah is also the one responsible for the new window displays at Weaving Southwest.  This one is in the front window.

And this very cool tree with autumn leaves made from Weaving Southwest tapestry yarn is in the back window.

If you do nothing else, go to Hannah's website HERE and look at her amazing work.  Also look through her blog.  It is wonderful to see my New Mexico homeland through the eyes of someone from over the pond (Scotland, right Hannah?). New Mexico shimmers through her eyes.  She is a wonderful addition to Weaving Southwest and I'm so glad she is there.  Thanks Hannah.